Time and time again. people are always preaching about the importance of core strength, and while they may be right, many of us do not have the time to do everything everyone tells us to do, and so it gets left to the side. With work, cycling and family life taking up most of the time we have, it’s not easy – unless you want to replace your sleep, which is a terrible idea!
Cycling is great for you, but it does neglect other areas of your body, and because cycling is such a low impact sport it is always a good idea to chuck some strengthening work into your routine. Not only will extra strength work help to prevent injury, knee and back pain, it will also help with stability on your bike and stop that rocking motion you may have experienced – or seen – at some point. Rocking on the bike can happen when you’re tired, this leads to power loss, which is ultimately something we are all trying to avoid, so if you suffer with any back, hip or neck pain, you should see an improvement in about a month; there is no point in having strong legs and big lungs if you can’t hold yourself up or keep still in the saddle.
Pick and choose, mix and match!
You can pick 3 out of the 5 exercises below and put them into a little circuit, it should take approximately 5 minutes to do each exercise. An example would be this: Plank, hold for 30 seconds and have 1 minute rest, then take the pike-ups and do 10-15 reps and rest for 1 minute, then finally take the knee fold tuck and do 10-15 reps and rest for 1 minutes. This should take approx. 5 minutes to do – do 3 sets of these exercises and then you are done. Quick, simple, yet effective, no excuses now folks!
Note: If this is too easy, feel free to drop the rest down to 30 or 15 seconds, and if it’s still easy, cut out the rest altogether.
The plank – Tried and tested, the plank is the ultimate in core exercises. Try 15-30 seconds to start with, and don’t over face yourself. Aim to work your way up to 1 minute over the next few weeks -setting small goals will make you more likely to carry on with it.
Side plank – This can hurt to start with, so again always start small, don’t overdo it on the first attempt or it will either put you off or injure yourself, and the aim of the game is to prevent injury! To perform the side plank, lie on your side with your legs straight and rest your elbow and forearm on the floor, push yourself up creating a straight line so that your knees and hips are off the ground and hold for 30 seconds. Swap sides and repeat.
Pike ups – Lie on your back on the floor, straighten your arms and legs and in one fluid movement bend in half and touch your toes, lower yourself back down and repeat 10-15 times. Make sure the movements are slow and avoid sudden ‘jerky’ movements.
Leg raises/leg lifts – Lie on your back straight legged, then lift your legs up to a 90 degree angle and lower slowly back down. Don’t touch the floor completely and raise them up again. Repeat this 10 times.
Knee fold tuck – Lie on your back, raise your legs off the ground a few inches and bring your knees to your chest and back straight again. Repeat 10-15 times.
Improve your looks
The key is to keep this up, stick to it and you’ll see the improvements. It’s easy to neglect this area of your training, but keep it going and see the benefits, you are likely to perform better, feel stronger and be more confident. You should start to look tighter and have a much better position on the bike.
When we watch the professionals, we all strive to achieve that ‘pro’ look, this is partly down to their strong core. Having a solid central point of core muscle, gives the fluid sense of being an athlete, and when we see our favourite pro riders swaying up the mountain climbs gracefully and speeding past the sprint sections. you can be sure that they will have a strong core. Power transfer will be efficient and you’ll be able to maximise your riding skills.
Make a note
Write it down. making a note of things will help you to carry it on, things always look better on paper. Just because it’s not time spent on the bike doesn’t mean it’s not training; log it in your training diary so you can look back at what you’re doing. This helps to identify what’s working, what isn’t, how you’re improving over the months and how you are feeling.